August 8th, 1998
So I watched Chariots of Fire last night. Again. And, again,
I fell madly and passionately in love with Nigel Havers. Who looks,
incidentally, disturbingly like Julian Sands. So I hied me
to the web to look at Chariots of Fire webpages. And all there was was
one annoying page about innaccuracies in the film. I mean, duh, of
course there will be inaccuracies. Here's your medal. Wear it with
Point being that I have decided that there needs to be an official
unofficial Chariots of Fire page. Looks like this is it. No, it will
not be comprehensive. Don't delude yourself. This is me. I am not
the comprehensive type.
So here's the gist. I first met Chariots of Fire when I was four. And
we had a sailboat. And a Play-Skool brown plastic portable tape
player. And we had two tapes. As a family, we owned two tapes. Yes,
Virginia, this was way, way before the advent of the compact disc. Mine
was the soundtrack to Annie and my parents' was the soundtrack
to Chariots of Fire. So there was always the big conflict. Do
we listen to Chariots of Fire or to Annie, which was the
first movie I saw in the theatre, incidentally. Meaning that it was
the first movie I ever saw, because again, Virginia, this was before
the invention of the VCR. Also it was before the invention of voice
mail, and email, and the microwave oven, and MTV, and we would soon buy our
first computer, an Apple2E possessing a whopping 64K of memory, which
believe it or not, Virginia, was perfectly respectable at the time.
And we used 5" floppy disks. When they introduced the 3" disks,
which was later, we called them hard disks. Because, well, we wanted
them. But I digress.
Chariots of Fire has so many levels I can't get through them
all right now. Eventually I have to go mop the floor. Just call me
Judith, okay. (If you got that reference, yeah, you're cool.) On
the one hand there is Harold Abrahams, striving (sorry) for
recognition and acceptance by a Christian society. Yes, it is ironic
that Dodi Fayed financed this film. Look at his father. Wow. But
that isn't my focus. On this webpage that is developing into an
academic paper. On a very real level, Chariots of Fire reflects
both the era in which it was set and the era in which it was made.
Possibly this is true only in retrospect. I was four years old. This
is pretty much my threshold of memory. There is a conflict in the film
between Abrahams, who believes in excellence at all costs, and the
Cambridge Establishment, who believe that "it is better to play the
gentleman and lose than to play the tradesman and win."
Abrahams is also contrasted to Eric Liddell, who runs and wins (the
film implies) as an expression of his faith. They are both, really,
alien to the Establishment, who cannot accept Abrahams because of his
religion and drive to win, and cannot understand Liddell's devotion
to God above national pride.